As naturally flawed beings, it’s generally accepted that occasionally we’ll fail in spectacular fashion — whether it’s in life, love, work, or just about any other facet of our existence. Sometimes those experiences begin as something wonderful, making the slow decline into failure all the more difficult to stomach and accept. This is a situation I found myself in recently. When after fighting my feelings for weeks, insisting that my love could conquer any obstacle, I came to terms with the fact that I was in an emotionally and physically abusive relationship with a pair of Chloé boots.
Let’s backtrack a few weeks. I was casually perusing the racks of my favorite consignment store when suddenly, in what can only be described as a dreamlike sequence, a pair of leather thigh-high lace-up Chloé boots beckoned me over. “Please be my size, please be my size,” I chanted. And as divine intervention would so have it, they were indeed my size. I threw my shoes off with the enthusiasm of a teenager about to get laid for the first time and carefully slid into the boots. As fellow shoppers cooed at the fabulousness of these shoes I knew they had to be mine. They were, in my completely deluded mind, an absolute steal at $275 (retail tag two grand!). I pranced out of the store feeling elated and giddy, another successful high-end snag.
I was beyond excited to wear them to dinner and bar hopping a few nights later, I was smiling ear to ear as I put my outfit together. And just as I emerged from my building, pep in my step, feeling like Rihanna, things got weird. The boots had already started falling below my thighs, awkwardly lingering and drooping around my knees. Uh Oh. Things only got worse as the night progressed. I found myself hunched over, pulling them up every ten minutes. My friend Nicole joked that I looked like I was about to pop a squat in the middle of the sidewalk (sexy, eh?). By the time I got home, the boots were scrunched up around my ankles and I was cursing the runway gods. My new favorite purchase had betrayed me.
Though upset, I was still committed to making these boots work. A few days later I tried again. Using tape usually reserved for keeping risqué tops in place, I lined the insides of the boots and firmly pressed them into my pants. I triumphantly walked into the office, boots still in place. Mutual love finally existed! That bond was short lived and by 1 p.m. the tape had completely disintegrated, creating a sticky gum-like mess I didn’t even know how to clean up. I once again found myself with my boots around my ankles, growing even more frustrated. I went on to try all sorts of wacky tactics – safety pinning the boots to my jeans, using rubber bands to keep them up, tying them so tight they cut off my circulation, and even using metal rods to try to keep them in place. I once tied them so tightly around my legs that when I took them off a few hours later my legs were aggressively bruised at 4 inch intervals from my thighs to my ankles. These boots were kicking my ass.
At some point we’ve all experienced an epic retail fail like this. And if you’ve been fortunate enough to dodge this event, I promise it will happen eventually. It’s heartbreaking to realize you’ve made a mistake that cost you money, time, and a good chunk of sanity. The good news? I’ve come up with a five-step process for evaluating your retail boo boo and acting on it:
1) Evaluate the situation: Have things really escalated to the point where nothing can be done to salvage this purchase? If at any point in time dealing with this item you found yourself a) borderline screaming b) softly sobbing or c) incapable of talking to friends about anything else – the answer is yes, yes they have.
2) Accept that you made an egregious mistake: Much like someone with an addiction of some sort, this is the point in time where you stop making excuses and embrace the error of your actions. You had a Tiger Woods moment. You were swayed by the prospect of something beautiful that you probably should have just left alone. And now you have to pay for it.
3) Prep for separation: Having accepted your mistake, this is the period where you start to gather yourself and think like a businesswoman (or businessman, don’t pretend you’re immune from bad purchases). If you’ve worn the item, make sure you spruce it up and make it look as pristine as possible. If you still have tags, receipts, authentication cards, dust bags, or anything else the item came with, those will all be immensely helpful in assuring potential buyers that what you have is legit. Do a little online research to find out if the item is still being sold in stores, determine how much it’s selling for, and assess its popularity. Note: this is all assuming an item is non-returnable, obviously if you’ve never worn it just take it back.
4) Get rid of the item: Sure, you can let it sit around the house taunting you indefinitely with the prospect that maybe one day things will work out between the two of you. They won’t. If it’s a reasonably expensive item that someone else would want, try to sell it online yourself (most profitable outcome). Ebay is great, but finding sites that are more niche will yield a better financial outcome. Take high-quality photos in good light from a variety of angles and try to find a photo online of the item on a model. If that sounds like way too much effort, take your item to a consignment store, some will even give you cash upfront. You won’t make back all your money, but at least some of the financial guilt will dissipate.
5) Understand that this will happen again: see paragraph #1.
I still haven’t sold my boots, but I’m working on it! In the meantime, I’m just going to keep jamming out to this week’s mix and assuring myself that I’ll soon be rid of my most recent fashion mistake.